Legendary English outlaw. The hero of ballads dating from as early as the 14th century, Robin Hood was a rebel who robbed and killed landowners and government officials and gave his gains to the poor. He treated women and common people with courtesy, and he ignored the laws of the forest that restricted hunting rights. His greatest enemy was the sheriff of Nottingham. The ballads emerged during a time of agrarian unrest that culminated in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. There is no evidence of Robin Hood's historical existence, though later tradition places him in the reign of King John. In postmedieval ballads and stories he was a nobleman who took refuge in Sherwood Forest after losing his lands. His men included Little John and Friar Tuck; his beloved was Maid Marion.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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